Funny women: Julia Louis-Dreyfus pledges to make "Christine" greenest set, if renewed

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In her conversation with Monday night, Julia Louis-Dreyfus said if her show, "The New Adventures of Old Christine," is renewed for a third season, the set will go green.

"We set a goal for ourselves," said Louis-Dreyfus, whose commitment to the environment was written up by Amanda Griscom in "If we're lucky enough to come back next season we are going to make our set the greenest set on the Warner Brothers lot."

Click here to watch the video of the 30-minute conversation I had Monday night with Louis-Dreyfus and Kari Lizer, executive producer of "Christine." I showed up with great questions from women who blog -- and I'll list them below -- but first please note the words:

"if we're lucky enough to come back...."

Wonder what that means? Didn't the show win an Emmy for Best Actress in Comedy? Yes it did. But in a world where the Internet now gets more eyeballs than television, nighttime dramas are hot and reality television's Nielsen ratings trump all, they want to stay on the air. See "ABC is Monday's 'Dancing' Queen'."

As you'll see from the video, both Louis-Dreyfus and Lizer said that "Christine" is important because it shows a different slice of womanhood in divorced, working mother Christine Campbell. Their own perspectives on the role of women in the television industry came out wonderfully in response to a question from Liz Gumbinner of Mom-101, about an January article in Vanity Fair. The conversation went like this:

LISA STONE: Women are funny right? Don't know if you read the article in the  Vanity Fair article by Christopher Hitchens writing about "Why Women Aren't Funny"? And TVGuide recently called women in comedy an endangered species. What do you think about that? Post-Emmy, what do you think about that?

JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS: What was the name of Hitchens' article?

STONE: "Why Women Aren't Funny"

LOUIS-DREYFUS: I didn't read it. And I'm hoping that that was a sarcastic name for the article, because it's the most inane thing I've ever heard in my life. No offense Mr. Hitchens. But I don't even know really how to respond to that. I do know that on TV there aren't many comedies right now. drama is sort of it right now. I also feel that these things are cyclical. I don't feel it, actually, I know it. Back when I was doing Seinfeld, there were tons of half-hour we have drama...

KARI LIZER: It's not a lack of funny women it's a lack of comedy in general being represented on television, and certainly the notion that women aren't funny is ridiculous. Although, I will tell you, that the traditional multi-camera format has been sort of a man's world. And the behind-the-scenes writing staff. That is the truth. We have sort of half-women, half-men. I have many times been the only woman on a staff.

LOUIS-DREYFUS: And I've been the only woman in a cast.

LIZER: Even though there's been traditionally -- Lucille Ball -- there's been funny women for a long time. I think women creating comedy and writing comedy I think is fairly new. There's always been funny women. So I beg to differ with what's-his-name!


Guided by these great questions, we also talked in-depth about:

  • Nordette's question: What it's like to turn real life divorce (like Lizer's) into comedy - do they see the humor during the rough times or after?
  • Jennster's question: How do both women feel about balancing work and motherhood and how they balance the guilt factor
  • Dorothy's question: What lesson do they
    want their children to learn from their work
  • Without my even asking, Louis-Dreyfus and Lizer
    talked about how lucky they were compared to so many moms -- touching on Sassafrassa's question.
  • Jenn Satterwhite's question: Does being famous get you more respect from a teenage son? Will Christine every get the upperhand with her arch-nemeses, the Meanie Moms? 
  • Y's question: How has the Internet changed the way they produce and write Christine?
  • Rebecca's question: How green are the sets? How much of an impact can actor's have?
  • MizzJenny's question: Is Christine redefining what a real mother looks and acts like?

On the latter two, I must offer a huge mea culpa -- Rebecca, I called you Rachel on the air. I apologize! And Jenny, I was so in love with your question and the thoughtful answers I was getting about motherhood from these women (who gave up dinner with their kids to do the taping) that, what did I do? I coughed up a version of your beautifully-worded question <em>as my own opinion</em>. Jenny, I hope you can forgive me -- and everyone else, I think it'll be clear why she inspired me when you read this:

"My question for Julia:

"I really appreciate the way you imbue Old Christine with dignity,
despite her flaws. Old Christine is one of the first television mothers
that I can truly identify with. In the mommyblogging community it is
common to push beyond social correctness and into the hilarious,
imperfect, often heartbreaking truth of life as a modern mother. Do you
feel that The New Adventures of Old Christine is redefining what a
modern mother looks and acts like?"

We also talked about Christine's relationship with her brother Matt, played by the "delicious" Hamish Linklater (their words, not mine). This was followed by my wondering aloud whether Christine will ever seriously find someone (warning: a mini-spoiler ensued), whether she will remain so woefully Internet-challenged (yes), how much we all worry about our own children's experience online and, finally, the fact that divorce doesn't feel quite so funny when you're going through it but it
makes for great material later.

The kicker was the return to the theme of "We just hope that we'll all be back next season," after I asked Rebecca's question and Louis-Dreyfus made her promise of a green set. So I asked:

STONE: So if there are viewers who want to see you back, what should they do?

LOUIS-DREYFUS: Harass the hell out of CBS.


LIZER: First and foremost they should watch the show.

Okay folks. Mondays, 8:30 p.m. If we want Christine to stay on the air, we now know what to do.

Thank you so much, everyone who sent in questions, for helping us profile this award-winning show by women about women in their 40s.

Related posts:

Of Sex, PTA Politics and Mommy-guilt: Got a question for Julia Louis-Dreyfus?
World Water Day (and what I learned about Julia Louis-Dreyfus)


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